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Andy Reid discusses 2023 Chiefs’ path to the Super Bowl

It’s been a long climb back to the top.

Kansas City Chiefs v New England Patriots Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs went 11-6 in the regular season, which for any other team might be considered a good year— but it's also the most games Patrick Mahomes has lost in season as the Chiefs quarterback. We saw a 16-game winning streak against the Denver Broncos come to an end. Travis Kelce missed out on an eighth straight 1,000-yard season. The Chiefs also lost at home to the Las Vegas Raiders on Christmas Day.

The Chiefs weren't just losing; they were beating themselves. It was the low point in the season. How does that old saying by Mike Tyson go again?

Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.

Getting up off the canvas

The Chiefs weren't just standing there with a bloody lip. They were laid out on the canvas. But these aren't the same Chiefs who made it an annual event to lose to the Indianapolis Colts in the playoffs.

There was never a doubt inside of the Chiefs' facilities.

"I think I saw more from within the building," said quarterback Patrick Mahomes on Thursday as he spoke to reporters, "Just how hard guys were working, how guys were taking it personal when we were losing games and going through that stretch... Guys weren't happy, and they were putting in the work to get better, and that's what you need."

AFC Championship - Kansas City Chiefs v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Perry Knotts/Getty Images

Head coach Andy Reid echoed his star quarterback's sentiment.

"We might not be the prettiest bunch, but we're going to battle."

Reid was quick to credit the leaders in the locker room with having patience with guys who were not coming along as fast as some would have liked.

"It's a tribute to their strength as a group, welcoming in new guys with high expectations and still making it work — not pushing anybody out the door because maybe it started a little slow... They didn't hang their heads. They've grown together, which is neat to watch."

The right 53

More goes into building a 53-man roster and a practice squad than accumulating as much talent as possible. You have to make sure the players you bring in are a culture fit and willing to put in the level of work it takes to be a champion.

Reid said that general manager Brett Veach does an excellent job of bringing in the right players. He also said that it helps when your two biggest stars are your hardest workers.

"You're not going to dog it with Pat Mahomes going full speed. Kelce going full speed. I mean, you're just not. They're not going to allow you to do that first of all. And then you watch them, and you watch how they practice. And you know it's not a fit if you can't do that."

Reid said that one of the guys who put in the work and never gave up on himself was wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who, after having a down year, has come up big in back-to-back weeks for the Chiefs.

Regarding Valdes Scantling, Reid said he was proud of his veteran receiver for sticking with it and not getting down on himself.

"I'm proud of him because he played well for us last year. This year, he had a couple of drops in big situations— but [he] didn't hang his head, didn't lose confidence. Kept battling— working with Pat."

Discussing the key to Valdes-Scantling's resurgence, Reid explained that the pass catcher has the requisite skills for success,

"He's smart and he's a hard worker, and as long as you you've got skill mixed in with that, then you, you have a chance. He understands that you can go into a slump; he worked through that and did a good job."

Being the underdog

For some guys, that chip on their shoulder helps them stay motivated and get up for the game. It's something that the Chiefs haven't experienced often with Mahomes under center, but Mahomes said that being counted out motivated him and some of his teammates.

"It kind of lit a fire, I think, under some guys — including myself."

He also said that being slighted can't be your only motivation in the playoffs.

"At the end of the day, it's playoff games. I mean, you want to win. I mean, this is what you kind of play for. I think that fire would have been regardless if we were underdog or not, that fire would have been lit... I think we have that mindset if we're going to practice the way we do and we're going to work the way we work, we're not going to let it slide by, and we're going to make sure that we maximize our opportunity every time we're out there."

Back in the Super Bowl

The last time the Chiefs missed the Super Bowl was in 2021 when they lost to the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship game. Reflecting on that Super Bowl, Mahomes said that although his buddies were throwing a Super Bowl party, he opted to watch it at home alone with his wife, Brittany.

"I kind of had it on, and I would kind of walk off and walk back just because I'm a fan of football, but it's tough — to get that close and not get in the game. And I know it's tougher to get in the game and lose it."

After struggling through the regular season, and fighting through a murderer's row of competition in the playoffs, Mahomes said that despite the Super Bowl being played in a fun city like Las Vegas, this is a business trip.

"We're going there to play a football game and try to find a way to win it."

It's Game Time.

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